If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ve probably come across that one blog that suggests character interviews is the solution to every writer’s writing block. Then they’ll give you a long fill-in-the-blank worksheet that has questions entirely irrelevant to your character’s interests. Why do you want to know about their love life? Who cares if they have a theme song? And they don’t have time for sports — the world is at stake, for Pete’s sake!
I will say that Charahub is a pretty legit place for these kinds of questions, but I personally think interviews are mostly useless unless you’ve already got a pretty good grasp on the character’s main interests that pertain specifically to the plot of your story. Only after you figure out their most immediate concerns (saving the world), can you focus on love lives and sports.
That being said, over the years I’ve discovered different ways to learn your character’s psyche — and some of these ways I’ve never heard recommended anywhere else.
For Advanced Creative Writing, we had to write a children’s story. I decided to go with a subtle allegory with this one, the Rubix cube representing life, and Ada (short for Adam) representing mankind. Mr. Joshua (derived from Yeshua) represents Jesus. Inspiration may or may not have come from Max Lucado’s You Are Special. At the end of the semester, our teacher is going to require us to submit this story to a publisher, so I guess I’ll see what happens!
Ada’s favorite teacher was Mr. Joshua. He was her only teacher, but that just made picking favorites even easier. Every day he would let her play with the toys on his desk, which were also favorites. Mr. Joshua let her swing the marbles on his Newton’s Cradle and press her hand in his pin art toy.
But Ada’s favorite favorite toy on Mr. Joshua’s desk was his Rubix cube. It had six colorful sides that could turn however Ada’s fingers wished them to go. She loved watching all the colors spin together into wonderful patterns and jumbles, and when she was finished, Mr. Joshua always knew how to put every color back in place.
As I’ve occasionally mentioned in the past few months (admittedly, quite sporadically), I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to work at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. as a video editing intern. Going into the program, I had little knowledge about what I was going to be doing, who the people were, how I was going to like them, and frankly, how I was going to cope with losing the majority of my summer to a 9-5:30 job.
But for anyone who might be thinking about the intern program, or have already submitted the application and been approved, I decided to do a full review of the goods, bads, and uglies (but trust me, they’re mostly goods) of Heritage’s program.
I’ve mentioned that I’ve been writing a book series for basically my entire teenaged life, but I rarely share any of my writing — for multiple different reasons. Recently, though, I’ve found part of a chapter that I enjoy submitting to writing contests on occasion, and I thought I might share here. The excerpt, although not heavily weighted with the story, I imagine to be a piece that represents the spirit and feel of the book fairly well.
Character names and events are mine and cannot be used without permission.
Fellow Heritage interns pay their respects to the Washingtons at an intern field trip to Mt. Vernon.
Whenever a friend of someone at church would ask me how I was enjoying my summer, most of the time I would let a dreamy smile wash over my face and assure them that the summer was absolutely wonderful, relaxing, and all-around lazy.
Well, not this summer!
This summer has been the busiest I’ve ever had. Mornings start at 7:15 with a Pop-Tart and a ride into Washington via the slug line, and I have successfully mastered the art of the Metro station.
Before applying for the Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders’ Program, a paid summer internship practically on the steps of our nation’s Capitol, I couldn’t really picture what I would be doing. I knew I wanted to apply for something related to graphic design or video editing, but I simply couldn’t see myself working a 9-5:30 weekday office job.
Now the fogginess has cleared and I’m sucking up knowledge and information as fast as I can. Yes, I’m learning valuable skill sets that will help me in my future career, but that’s just the beginning of it.
During the summer, I’ve discovered that time management is everything.
This past summer has been the busiest summer of my life. The Heritage Foundation offers a paid internship practically on the steps of the Capitol in Washington. With an only 14% acceptance rate and hundreds of applicants, I wasn’t sure what would become of my resume and application.
After my interview with Heritage’s VP of Communications Rob Bluey for my journalism class (which you can read here if you missed it), I received an acceptance email from Rob and an offer to join him for the summer at Heritage.
I said yes.
Since then, I’ve been working every day to help Heritage’s multimedia news outlet, The Daily Signal, produce conservative videos and Facebook Lives for their website and social media pages.
My first project was editing a promotional for Heritage Action’s Sentinel Summit, which required me to learn Adobe Premiere within a week’s time. And yes, I loved every minute.